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Blueberry Thieves

It’s easy to see motion in the garden when the motion is coming from a six foot tall mess of stakes, chicken wire and plastic netting. The chicken wire was a 2021 addition after the plastic netting proved insufficient to keep the birds and chipmunks off of the blueberry bushes. Know what my blueberry harvest was in 2020? Take a look at that last number in the year.

So this year brought new resolve and a commitment to reaching the finish line with at least one bowlful of blueberries. And then I saw motion inside the cage. Sure enough a gray catbird had somehow gotten inside but couldn’t figure out how to get out. I offered some advice, filtered here for the protection of the innocent. And the catbird found a way out with my encouragement.

An hour later, more motion from the cage. Looking over, a chipmunk was inside, stretched to its limits in the act of attempting to steal a ripening blueberry. I threw the head of a hoe at the cage, terrifying the chipster and emptying the cage once again. Clearly this cage isn’t working out as planned.

A quick online search for how to scare away critters brought the usual assortment of scarecrows, pinwheels and shiny tape. But it also brought up one I hadn’t considered – plastic snakes. It seems the forest creatures find plastic snakes unnerving enough that they stay away from the blueberries.

Which makes me wonder, what am I doing growing blueberries anyway? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just buy some at the market? When I’ve reached a point where I’m buying toy snakes as garden accessories, has the very act robbed me of the joie de jardiner? Am I adding whimsy or tackiness? I crossed that threshold when I put up a chicken wire cage in my garden.

I pride myself on coexisting with most of the critters in the neighborhood. Until they start messing with my garden anyway. Last year featured epic battles with the groundhog. This year it’s been rabbits, birds and chipmunks. Am I willing to concede the blueberries to fate, or is a small crop of fruit worth an investment in a scary-looking toy? Will there even be fruit to protect by the time I obtain a snake?

The things I do for a garden…. While there are blueberries to fight for this battle isn’t over, and neither is the story. Stay tuned.

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